Exploring meaning through participation

Georgios Giannakopoulos
September 27, 2023

A few days ago, my students asked me to share with them the main reason they have to attend school for. Their request took me by surprise. I realised that my willingness to communicate insights gained from my teaching experiences, as well as various theories and ideologies that have nurtured me into becoming the pedagogue I am today, could potentially offer reasons at first, but would show limitations in its direct and automatic applicability for their age and reality.

What encouraged students to ask that question? What kind of answer would allow me to honor the question and continue this dialogue? 

My years of interacting with students of all ages have helped me realise that, sometimes, it is imperative that we relieve ourselves from any adult role that creates a sense of separation between us and the younger members of our communities. With the objective of exploring this inquiry through reflection, I took them outside the classroom, in the yard of our school.

Once we were outside, I asked them to ''entangle'' themselves by joining hands in a specific way, and to try and undo the knot they created without letting go of one another. Unfortunately for them, they were not able to ΄΄untangle΄΄ themselves. Fortunately for me, they managed to realise the importance of communication for this activity and in general, as well as to generalise from their experience, and to state how this can be applied on a macro-societal level.

Students understood that when there is lack of communication, communities and their members encounter a variety of problems, that unfortunately are unable to solve, as there can be no agreement on how to address them. This lesson helped me see the power of exploring meaning through participation.

I believe that discussing pragmatic experiences that address real life scenarios and reflecting on the metaphor they represent supports harmonising the common language that will allow us to collectively solve our problems in the future. It is through these processes that we learn how to "untangle ourselves" and solve the knots we encounter in our everyday lives.

September 27, 2023

Georgios Giannakopoulos

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